David Barton Launches Gym U

David Barton, the industry veteran behind the former David Barton Gyms and TMPL among others, has launched a new brand, Gym U, in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City, according to an announcement by Gym U.

The 35,000-square-foot, three-story Gym U opened on June 2 in the long-time McBurney YMCA building, which most recently was a Crunch gym. The building is familiar to Barton since in another incarnation, it also housed one of his David Barton Gyms. 

The company, which limits memberships to people 21 years old and older, touts that Gym U offers a scientific approach to health and training. That technology includes Neubie, a direct current electro muscular stimulation device that reprograms muscles for optimized performance and recovery times, according to the company.

Gym U will house ARX adaptive resistance equipment, which utilizes patented, motorized resistance and computer software to maximize every rep to help maximum results, the company said.

The facility includes performance and recovery-boosting offerings including Ozone capsule and personalized IV therapy from wellness boutique Fuel Stop.

Barton has handpicked his certified fitness trainers who specialize in neuromuscular re-education with a visual understanding of aesthetics cultivated through figure drawing.

Gym U also partnered with Precision Health Alliance to offer members an epigenetic diagnostic profile with insights to their personal health. The process uses artificial intelligence to create a fitness blueprint for each member based on their individual genetic potential.

The space also will feature Mush Room, a mushroom-inspired café developed in collaboration with Bill Gilroy from Employees Only cafe. Once the cafe is complete, the menu will focus on the healing adaptogenic properties of the fungus kingdom. Working with local foraging partners Tivoli Mushrooms in Upstate New York, Mush Room will offer exclusive, specialty foraged edibles created from wild and cultivated species that rotate on a seasonal basis.

The building’s design was inspired by the 1927 German science fiction film “Metropolis.” Barton worked with architects Charles Renfro and Stephen Alton, as well as creative collaborators Peter Brescia, Rose Wood and lighting design firm Focus Lighting.

The building was designed with large wooden doors, steel-encased industrial fans, and riveted steel columns, according to the media release.  A modern floating staircase leads members from the first floor down into the weight area where 23-foot tall mirrors reflect light from above.

The top floor is home to a yoga studio, locker rooms and a spa.

Barton has a long history in the fitness industry. He opened  his first club in Chelsea in 1992, and then he opened eponymous gym brand David Barton Gyms in 2013 and TMPL in 2016. He sold TMPL to Town Sports International just a year later. As he shared with Club Industry in 2004, he designs his clubs for a niche market, not the masses.

In 2011 with Barton at the helm and having racked up $65 million in debt, according to the New York Times, David Barton Gyms filed for Chapter 11Barton resigned from the company in 2013 and filed a lawsuit against Club Ventures Investments, the company that owned David Barton Gyms at that time, to make clear that he had no non-compete agreement so he could secure investors to start a new brand.

In December 2016, the David Barton Gyms filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, closing its gyms, and in 2017, it was sued by the New York Attorney General’s Office for failing to refund member money. Barton was not with the company at the time of the Chapter 7 filing.